Being a senior student at The American University in Cairo, living in a multicultural environment and having friends from all over the world did not protect me from cultural shock. This is how I can describe my first day in UKM Malaysia. Part of the fact is that this is my first time I go abroad alone.
Before I come to Malaysia, I neither had time for thinking about expectations regarding the nature of my internship nor my accommodation in general.
The nature of my job wasn’t shocking for me because I am always looking forward to challenging myself with new tasks to add spices to my life. But, yes, it is the first time I work in AIDS project, and it is the first time I read that much about the disease.
Interestingly enough, I realized how ignorant some Egyptians, including me, regarding AIDS epidemic. But there is no wonder when one notices that AIDS is not widespread in Egypt compared to Western and Southern Africa.
I guess the most challenging or shocking thing in my job will be visiting infected people. Not because I get scared of them, but because sometimes I’m very emotional and it is hard to hold my tears.
The real shock happened once I arrived and saw the bathrooms. There is something I know very well about myself; I can adapt to any circumstances except “comfortable bathrooms”. The first day, seriously I didn’t know how these toilets are used because I have never used them before.
Another challenge I’m still facing is Monkeys. For me, Monkey = Lion, which made my first night sleepless; especially when I was told that monkeys can sneak to my rooms through the window.
Sadly, not only monkeys are my weak point, but I also get scared of insects and spiders. But I am so happy to realize that after my second day, I don’t care if a lizard or a “small” insect passes next to me.